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Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. An October sunrise greets the wine-stained Red Valley of Wind Cave National Park as a lone cottonwood tree stands stoically, a lone sentinel in the vast rumpled plains. Prairie surrounds the entire Black Hills, uplifted by volcanic activity eons ago. Cottonwood trees are fast growing trees that can grow to an immense height and girth in a relatively short lifespan. Sometimes the only trees on the prairie's vast lonely expanse, serving as natural landmarks marking an oasis of shade and hopeful springs in an endless sea of grass.